Praise For Woman’s Courage In Suburbia - Poem by Ananta Madhavan
Suburbia is a place I have known
From sojourns of some years
In a dozen cities over six decades.
I also know the airport lounge and masks
Of travellers with bags and back-packs
Stoically waiting to arrive or depart.
Suburbia is no utopia, but I sensed
The same muggy, chummy atmosphere
In far continents where lanes were crammed
With harried strollers, idlers, loafers,
Dotards and busy denizens; hobbling men,
Cute kids in school uniform or rags.
Bikes for pedal or motored mobility;
Carts or trucks; cars with emblems on the hood,
Spare tyre at the rear, engine hissing
With radiator thirst for a draught of water;
Parasols of many hues and spokes, garbs
And skins, dark to fair, garment modes,
Shacks, bill-boards, makeshift balconies
And Metropolis rising floor by floor.
In the street below I often see a woman
Trudging along, purpose-bent, at certain hours,
Perhaps she has to go to work in someone’s house
Helping to mind a kid or cook or wash the clothes.
She is past girlhood, but is not taller than my hip;
A midget whom we pity. She does not care.
She wears a pale brown skirt, a paavadai,
Like a small girl, and an orange blouse, rather loose.
We heard that this woman had long been reconciled
To being a stunted form, but we wondered if at times
She did not grieve, with no mate, no child.
She was not consumed by self-pity or envy,
But she was venturesome, went by bus, trusting folk
To help her reach her stop: praise be, they did.
Further up our street, there is a high-rise pile a-building.
Early mornings I saw a slender working woman
Turning up to earn her wages, before the contractor
Began his head-count. He is answerable to his boss.
She wears a red sari, takes a shallow metal pan and goes
To a heap of rough sand. All day long she moves,
Collecting loads of sand, carries it pan by pan
On her head to a turning cylinder for sifting,
And sends each load up a temporary lift
To cement the walls on the upper floor.
Maybe she is the earner of the house, leaving her babe
At her poky tenement with a niece or aunt,
Hoping that suburbia will be Utopia one day.
I praise these women, they give me courage.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
society in India with their commitment to the tasks they have
chosen and their courage.
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